Thursday, October 30, 2014

Week 10 Saturday Preview

We have officially hit the stretch run for the 2014 college football season, and somehow it feels as if it had barely begun. The quickest season in all of sports is coming down to the wire, so now is the time to start really drilling down conference races in FBS football, and also to drill down deep in FCS conference races as the playoffs are just around the corner in a division that understands what the word actually means. First we look at the FBS, and see what's coming up this weekend.
Our first part of the weekly drill down is to look at the games of the day for Saturday, and see what's worth watching...

Florida State 42, Louisville 31
The Cardinals gave it all they had, but it was nowhere near enough to bump FSU from the final 4 standing. Here's a clue...when you take a 21-0 lead, close it out.

Duke at Pittsburgh
On paper, this isn't all that interesting, but when you drill it down, Duke has just a half game lead in a still open Coastal race. Duke controls their own destiny as it stands now, but a Pitt upset would be a disaster for the Blue Devils, and would create a civil war in the division for the title game birth.
My Pick: Duke

North Carolina at Miami
Neither team is worth much right now, but a Duke slipup at Pitt could open the door for one of these two bumbling programs to back their way into the division race big time. If Duke wins, then this game means little.
My Pick: North Carolina

Virginia at Georgia Tech
As bad as these two have been recently, the winner still maintains a stake in the Coastal race. A Virginia loss basically all but guarantees that the Cavaliers are home for the holidays, but Tech is still going bowling either way.
My Pick: Georgia Tech

Big 12

TCU at West Virginia
Both teams are in a current position to capitalize on a Kansas State loss in the coming weeks. After Saturday, only one will remain in that position. The winner will stay in my race for Big 12 coach of the year. With TCU coming in minus Boykin at QB, how big a game will Clint Trickett need to have?
My Pick: West Virginia

Oklahoma State at Kansas State
No, Okie State is not in the race, but they can play a major spoiler role this weekend in Manhattan. The Wildcats will have the winner of the above mentioned game nipping at their heels in a loss, and K State still needs to play both TCU and West Virginia in November. Let the fun begin!
My Pick: Kansas State

Big 10

Northwestern at Iowa
Again, you have to look at the deeper meaning of this one. Iowa can stay alive in the West with a win, but they need that win badly. Northwestern, as truly awful as they can be at times, can actually stay in the West race, and play spoiler for Iowa at the same time.
My Pick: Iowa


Stanford at Oregon
Another season, and another year with Stanford and Oregon at the top of the North. Stanford has had the Duck's number for a few years now, but is this Cardinal team good enough to take down Oregon in Eugene this season? Stanford has been improving, and Oregon will have to be on their A game to hold them off.
My Pick: Oregon

Arizona at UCLA
The night cap will have Rich Rod trying to maintain position at the struggling Bruins and do something that has never been done in Tucson...and that would be Arizona winning a conference title in the PAC-12, or the PAC-10 for that matter. The Bruins have struggled all season against athletic QBs, and will have their hands full with Anu Solomon. If the Bruins falter, despite being bowl eligible, they will have completed one of their most disappointing seasons in their history.
My Pick: Arizona

Utah at Arizona State
Kyle Whittingham and the Utes are one of the biggest surprises in the nation in 2014. Utah was lucky to survive against USC, and Tempe will be revved up this weekend. Look for ASU to have their A game on display, and push forward.
My Pick: Arizona State


Florida vs. Georgia (at Jacksonville)
I'm not listing this as a game to watch because it's going to be a good game. Hell, Georgia should run up and down on the Gators. I am listing this game because this could be Will Muschamp's death bell in the swamp.
My Pick: Georgia

Kentucky at Missouri
Missouri is nipping right at the heels of the Georgia Bulldogs in the East. Kentucky is going to want to have a little bit to say about that, and get themselves bowl eligible while doing it. Missouri is no lock here. The upset dogs are out and howling.
My Pick: Kentucky

Auburn at Ole Miss
The CFP committee should have waited another week before releasing their rankings, because one of these squads will be out of the final four come next Tuesday. The entire system is a mess right now, with 18 one loss teams, including both of these teams. One of them will get sorted out of the mess this week, bringing the SEC dominance of the top four from three to two.
My Pick: Auburn

Group of Five Highlight Games


Houston at USF
The Cougars are hanging on to a lifeline in third place in the conference race. USF is right behind them despite being 3-5. The Cougars severely need this win to stay alive in the conference race.
My Pick: Houston

Conference USA

Not a great week for meaningful matchups when it comes to the CUSA race. Marshall was left out of the playoff committee's top 25, which is inexcusable for an 8-0 football team. Marshall came in at number one in our FBS PRS rankings this week, edging out Mississippi State by the numbers, so it's a terrible time for the Herd to take a week off.


BYU at Middle Tennessee
The titanic didn't sink as fast as BYU has since Taysom Hill wrecked his leg against Utah State. BYU has lost four straight, and Middle Tennessee isn't going to just lay down for the Cougars. The BYU psyche appears shattered right now. They need this game.
My Pick: Middle Tennessee

Notre Dame at Navy
Notre Dame is coming off an emotional and close loss to Florida State last week, and has to go back on the road against a pesky Navy team that is going to get way up for the Irish this weekend. The Irish have to beware the upset bug.
My Pick: Notre Dame

There are only two scheduled games this weekend for the MAC, and neither game intends to manipulate the conference race in any real way. Two more games will play on election night Tuesday.

Mountain West

Colorado State at San Jose State
The Spartans have stayed alive in the West despite a stumbling 3-4 record, and are only a half game behind San Diego State. Colorado State is tied with Boise State for the Mountain lead. Both teams have much to play for, but one is clearly better than the other here.
My Pick: Colorado State

San Diego State at Nevada
The Aztecs are gripping a narrow lead in a very weak West right now, and Nevada is a solid game back. With SDSU coming north to Reno, things could get interesting very quickly.
My Pick: Nevada

Sun Belt

Georgia Southern 42, Troy 10
GSU broke into our top 25 at number 18 this week, and seem intent on crashing the party. The Eagles will have no problem moving up this week after trouncing hapless Troy. Willie Fritz is a candidate for our national and Sun Belt coach of the year award.

South Alabama at UL-Lafayette
This is a huge tilt in Sun Belt play this weekend. Both teams trail Georgia Southern currently, but not by much in the race. The winner stays in the race. Only ULL can sustain a loss in this game and live another day with some help. USA is up against it for a win.
My Pick: South Alabama

FCS Saturday Games to Watch

Big Sky

Idaho State at Portland State
The Bengals go on the road this weekend very much in the Big Sky race, but they need a win to stay there. When was the last time anyone could say that about ISU?
My Pick: Idaho State

Montana State at Cal Poly
Rob Ashe has done yet another stellar job for the Bobcats this season, and has MSU on top in the Big Sky standings. The Mustangs are right on their heels, however, and the race is up for grabs.
My Pick: Montana State

Big South

Charleston Southern at Monmouth
Look at this as an elimination game in conference play, as both teams have cooled considerably after hot starts. The loser is done.
My Pick: Charleston Southern

Liberty at Presbyterian
Liberty is very much alive in the chase of Coastal Carolina, but Presbyterian is playing their best football since joining the FCS ranks.
My Pick: Presbyterian

Coastal Carolina at Gardner-Webb
The Chanticleers are cruising in the Big South race, but they need to keep on winning, and big, to overtake North Dakota State in our PRS title chase. CCU ranks second in the nation currently.
My Pick: Coastal Carolina


Villanova at Richmond
This is a huge battle between two front runners in the CAA race. The loser isn't out, but would need help moving forward. This game could go either way with much on the line.
My Pick: Villanova

William & Mary at James Madison
This could be a playoff birth elimination game for both teams this weekend. Neither team has much a shot of catching a conference crown, but playoffs are still in the picture as a bubble team for the winner. The loser may very well be eliminated.
My Pick: William & Mary

Albany at New Hampshire
Albany is looking to play spoiler and keep their playoff hopes alive, while UNH is trying to keep pace with Villanova on top of the standings. This is a high value game, and Albany is looking to cash in as a spoiler.
My Pick: New Hampshire

Ivy League

Harvard at Dartmouth
There are only two unbeaten teams left in conference play, and after this tilt in New Hampshire, there will only be one. This is a major conference game, and could be one of the best games of the day in either FBS or FCS football.
My Pick: Harvard

None of the big dogs in the conference race square off against each other this week, so look for all of the major favorites to pull off wins heading into the following weekend, which should provide some showdowns.

Missouri Valley

South Dakota State at North Dakota State
SDSU isn't likely to upset NDSU this week in Fargo, but a win could keep them in the playoff discussion. NDSU isn't the kind of football team that takes anyone likely, and will look to defend their number one spot in our PRS rankings with vigor.
My Pick: North Dakota State

Illinois State at Northern Iowa
The Red Birds, at 7-0, have been below the raider despite remaining unbeaten. Northern Iowa is always tough at home, and will be looking to play spoiler, despite being just 4-4 currently.
My Pick: Illinois State


Sacred Heart at Wagner
Wagner is currently tied for first with Bryant (plays host to Central Connecticut State), and will get the tougher test of the two this week with Sacred Heart in spoiler mode. SHU is also trying to keep their own conference title hopes alive, and a loss would likely dampen those prospects this week. By far the best conference matchup this week in the NEC.
My Pick: Sacred Heart

Ohio Valley
The OVC produces a fairly week lineup this week. All favorites should likely move on without issue.

Patriot League

Colgate at Fordham
The Red Raiders and Rams are two of the final three unbeaten in conference play. Fordham has been flawless since an ass whooping at the hands of Villanova in non-conference play, but Colgate has been showing signs of life in recent weeks. Fordham has to be on alert.
My Pick: Fordham

Pioneer League

San Diego at Drake
Jacksonville may be out in front, but it is elimination Saturday for the loser of this football game in PFL play. Both teams have one loss coming in, so it is truly a coin toss as to has a real edge.
My Pick: San Diego

Southern Conference

Chattanooga at Western Carolina
It's a showdown for first place in the SoCon this weekend, as the Mocs and Catamounts battle it out for sole possession of first place heading into November. There is no more meaningful game in the FCS this weekend, as whomever wins, may very well hold onto a conference title and auto bid to the playoffs.
My Pick: Western Carolina


Stephen F. Austin at Sam Houston State
It's elimination Saturday in the SLC, as both clubs are holding onto a fringe position on the NCAA bubble. The winner stays in consideration, and stays very much in the conference title race, while the loser is likely out of it for the year, especially if that loser is KC Keeler and the Bearkats.
My Pick: Stephen F. Austin

McNeese State at Northwestern State
The same applies for this game on Saturday, as both teams need a win to stay alive. McNeese State is the favorite heading in, and is on the NCAA bubble, but a loss could toss them completely out, and likely will. NW State is in full spoiler mode.
My Pick: McNeese State


Grambling at Texas Southern
Grambling has a big lead over TSU, but are they really as good as their 5-0 conference mark indicates? It is truly one of the best turnaround stories in FCS football this season. Grambling doesn't remotely resemble the catastrophe that was the 2013 season.
My Pick: Texas Southern

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